Dr. K. Subrahmanian

Dr. K. Subrahmanian's genuine love and devotion, insight, compassion and selflessness formed a vortex that drew hundreds of devotees from Andhra Pradesh into the shining presence of Sri Ramana Maharshi. In 1979, he founded Sri Ramana Kendram in Hyderabad and continued to nurture it until his final day in January of 1998.

The following is an extract from "Dr. K. Subrahmanian (1928-1998), A Tribute", a book publish by the Hyderabad Kendram in his memory. Dr. K. Subrahmanian relates in his own words about his early years and how he was naturally drawn to the Maharshi, and also some anecdotes from his uncle's life.

Coming into the Ramana Fold

Presentation Convent, the school that my father worked for, used to prepare children for taking the Cambridge University examination. The school was run by Irish nuns and almost all the children were European girls. My father was the only male teacher for a number of years. In the 50s, one more male teacher was appointed to teach Hindi.

As the winter vacation was during Dec-Jan every year, my parents would go from Kodaikanal to Tiruvannamalai to attend the Jayanti function. My father used to take English vegetables grown in Kodaikanal to the Ashram for the Jayanti celebrations. After attending the Jayanti, my parents would go to my father's village, Melvayalamoor, which is about 20 miles from Tiruvannamalai. I was taken to Sri Bhagavan when I was two years old. My two younger sisters and I used to be taken almost every year to Sri Ramanasramam for the Jayanti celebrations. In our case we could say we were seen by Sri Bhagavan first. We were conscious of seeing him much later.

My uncle, who looked after our lands in Melva-yalamoor, was also a great devotee of Sri Bhagavan and Nayana [Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni]. Both in my house and in my uncle's house there was always a picture of Sri Bhagavan in the puja room. If not every day, almost every week, there used to be some discussion or the other about the life and teachings of Sri Bhagavan. From childhood I was brought up in a Bhagavan-charged atmosphere.

Viswanatha Swami visited our house and stayed with us for several days together on numerous occasions. Later, when I was teaching at Madras Christian College, he stayed with me a couple of times. He used to spend much of his time talking about the glory and grandeur of Sri Bhagavan and Nayana. He taught us a number of devotional songs. He had a melodious voice and could sing beautifully.

Hearing from my father, uncle and Viswanatha Swami that Sri Bhagavan used to read the letters written by devotees to him, as a boy I used to write to him occasionally, seeking his blessings. As there was no high school in Kodaikanal, my father sent me to study at Sir P.S.Sivaswami Iyer High School, Tirukattupally. I studied there for four years between 1941-45, from III Form to VI Form, and stayed in the hostel attached to it.

Talking to Sri Bhagavan

In 1941, I was taken by my uncle to Sri Ramanasramam. We had bought some mangoes and my uncle said that I should put them on the small stool near Sri Bhagavan's sofa. I went into the old meditation hall along with my uncle and put the mangoes on the floor and prostrated before Sri Bhagavan and sat near the window that now overlooks Sri Bhagavan's samadhi. My uncle sat next to me. When I was looking at Sri Bhagavan, Sri Bhagavan asked my uncle, "Who is this?" My uncle said, "He is my brother's son. He is studying in III Form." Then Sri Bhagavan said, turning to me, " So you are the person writing letters to me." I had a strange feeling of awe, coupled with great joy. I said in a low voice, "Yes." Sri Bhagavan said, "Does your father send money to you so that you can write letters to me?" and laughed. I wasn't quite sure whether Sri Bhagavan was being sarcastic or made the remark in a light vein. I sweated for a while, continuing to look at him. As it was early in the morning, there were only two or three devotees in the hall. When we came out of the hall after some time, my uncle, who had been a frequent visitor to the Ashram for several years, said, "You must consider yourself very lucky. Sri Bhagavan usually does not ask `Who is he?' It is a rare thing."

Observing Sri Bhagavan

Till 1950, I used to visit the Ashram a couple of times every year; the frequency however increased between 1948 and 1950. I attended the Kumbhabhishekam of the Mathrubhuteswara Temple. It was an elaborate, solemn affair. After the Kumbhabhishekam was performed, in the evening arati was offered to the deity in the temple and was brought to Sri Bhagavan by Chinnaswami, Viswanatha Swami and President Venkataraman. I was sitting very close to Sri Bhagavan in the meditation hall attached to the temple. It was a moving sight when Sri Bhagavan extended his hands and touched the arati with great reverence, closing his eyes.

Soon after each operation was performed on Sri Bhagavan's cancer, I used to visit him. Sometimes I used to cry uncontrollably looking at Sri Bhagavan from a distance. As far as Sri Bhagavan was concerned, he was ever the same serene, blissful Self. He behaved as if the cancer belonged to somebody else.

The last time I saw Sri Bhagavan was on 7th April, 1950, exactly one week before his nirvana. When I heard the news of Sri Bhagavan's nirvana at Kodaikanal, on 14th April, 1950, I did not break down, nor did I feel depressed. I felt a peace—a peace that was totally unexpected. Viswanatha Swami, whom I met a month later, also said that he enjoyed an indescribable peace at the time of Sri Bhagavan's nirvana. He was one of the few who were inside the room at the time Sri Bhagavan merged with Arunachala.

I was taken to Sri Bhagavan as a small boy and I visited him many times later on, but I never put even a single question to him. I listened to others asking questions and Sri Bhagavan's replies to them, but I never felt inclined to ask a question even once. The only thing I used to do was to sit close to him and take leave of him after prostrating to him. Most often he would nod his head or say in Tamil, "sari, sari" (O.K, O.K.).

Occasionally I used to think that it would be good to read Sri Bhagavan's works in his presence. I tried a couple of times but I could not read anything in his presence. I was either looking at him or meditating.

Close Encounters with Sri Bhagavan

Sometime in 1949, when Sri Bhagavan was still in the meditation hall, I sat at the entrance looking at Sri Bhagavan from outside. His shoulder was bandaged because of cancer. I thought to myself: "I have been coming to the Ashram so often. But I have had no experience of real meditation. Sri Bhagavan has not granted me this experience." Thinking along these lines, I kept looking at Sri Bhagavan for a considerable time and then closed my eyes. I do not know how long I was in that state. When I opened my eyes I found that the meditation hall was empty. Sri Bhagavan was not there on the stone couch in the meditation hall. Sri Bhagavan and the devotees must have gone past me as I was sitting at the entrance. When I realised that I had been sitting when Sri Bhagavan went past me, I was horrified. I felt how disrespectful I was. But suddenly, I realised that Sri Bhagavan, out of his unbounded grace, granted me an experience whereby I was completely oblivious of my surroundings.

Even today, I am unhappy that I did not get up when Sri Bhagavan and his devotees went past me. Sri Bhagavan gives us rare experiences when we least expect them.

On another occasion, when I was an 18-year-old student, around noon or so, I was walking towards the meditation hall. The new meditation hall was not there then; the whole place was an open ground. I was thinking of something and walking with my head down. When I neared the well, I looked up and saw Sri Bhagavan standing at a short distance and talking to a devotee. I was taken unawares as I did not expect Sri Bhagavan to be there. Sri Bhagavan who was talking to the other person, looked at me sideways. I stood still, as I did not want to disturb Sri Bhagavan in any way. When he looked at me that way, I felt a powerful light penetrate me and engulf me. I experienced a bliss that I had not experienced before. I was in that state for about twenty days.

My uncle, V. S. Srinivas Iyer, did his Intermediate at Voorhese College, Vellore and became village Munsiff of Vailamoor village and worked in that capacity for over forty years. He saw Sri Bhagavan even as a student. In the early days, there used to be very few visitors to the Ashram, which was then just a thatched shed. Before he met Sri Bhagavan, my uncle had come under the influence of Kavyakanta and had taken upadesa from him. This fact is mentioned in the Sanskrit biography of Kavyakanta, Vasishta Vaibhavam, written by Kapali Sastry.

The first question that my uncle put to Sri Bhagavan as a young man was, "Is it true that Ravana had ten heads." Sri Bhagavan replied, "How does it help you to know whether he had ten heads or not?" My uncle said, "Nayana says it is all false." Sri Bhagavan replied, "Nayana has studied a lot and has come to certain conclusions. What do I know?" On another occasion my uncle asked Sri Bhagavan when he was going round the Hill, "Bhagavan, Nayana did tapas for the freedom of this country. Do you think we will get freedom?" Sri Bhagavan said, "Why do you ask me? Am I an astrologer?" After some time, Sri Bhagavan turned to my uncle and said, " Why do you worry? There is a Supreme Power which carries the whole burden. Our job is to do our work and submit to it."

Once an Ashram deer was attacked by some animal and the wounds turned from bad to worse. Sri Bhagavan sat near the deer and held its face in his hands, looking at its tearful eyes. Sri Bhagavan sat like that for a couple of hours. Chinnaswami asked my uncle who was standing close to look after the deer and relieve Sri Bhagavan. Sri Bhagavan heard this but did not make any response. Sri Bhagavan sat there till the deer breathed its last. That was the compassion that Sri Bhagavan had for that deer. Soon after, Sri Bhagavan went to the hall. There is a Samadhi for the deer in the Ashram.

When the Mathrubhuteswara Temple was being constructed, Sri Bhagavan used to help the construction workers by lifting the bricks and offering them to the mason. When my uncle saw Sri Bhagavan doing this type of work he was astonished. Sri Bhagavan said to my uncle, "I am doing construction work."

He Said, "It is not for the sake of the husband, my dear, that he is loved, but for one's own sake that he is loved. It is not for the sake of the wife, my dear, that she is loved, but for one's own sake that she is loved. It is not for the sake of the sons, my dear, that they are loved, but for one's own sake that they are loved.... It is not for the sake of all, my dear, that all is loved, but for one's own sake that it is loved. The Self, my dear Maitrey, should be realized, should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. When the Self, my dear, is realized by being heard of, reflected on and meditated upon, all this is known." — Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, Chapt. IV, verse 6

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter


By K. Subrahmanian

THE Maharshi and Arunachala embody the same principle of stillness. The Maharshi too was achala, the stillness of Awareness. He was the utsava vigraha, the hill the mula vigraha. He never moved away from Tiruvannamalai, from the day he arrived there in his sixteenth year till he merged in its light in April, 1950. As the hill is rooted in the earth, Sri Ramana is rooted in the Self. The hill still draws people to it. Sri Ramana too, unmoving, draws people towards himself. Even people who had not seen him during his lifetime are drawn towards him and the hill.

The Sage appealed to humanity through silence. This silence, like the hill’s own silence, is more potent than the eloquence of preachers. It brings about silence of the beholder’s mind. It is not the negation of speech but the pure awareness which is the source and end of all sound.

Going round the hill is recommended by Sri Bhagavan, as this physical movement results in mental calm. Strangely enough, one feels no fatigue in going round the hill. Going round Sri Bhagavan was thought equal to going round the hill and was found by some to yield the same mental calm. However, he discouraged this practice. The hill and the Maharshi are two forms assumed by the formless Self.

Smaranad Arunachalam — If one thinks of Arunachala,one gains liberation. Like Arunachala, Ramana too brings enlightenment by ending the illusion that the body is oneself.

The hill is Lord Siva himself. And Ramana lived and moved as Sivananda. And he is present still as we sit in silence in his Ashram or walk round the hill.

Only He Can Make Us Think of Him

Sri Bhagavan once said that even to think of God, we must have the Grace of God. There is no real quest without Grace. When we think of Him, when we meditate on Him, we are not doing anything of our own accord. He makes us think of Him and meditate on Him. We can't take any credit for this ourselves. We are not doing these activities, we are made to do these. The moment we are fully conscious of this, we shall be utterly humble. Whatever happens during meditation, happens because He makes it happen the way it happens. So there is no cause for joy or sorrow.

Sri Bhagavan once said that even to think of God,we must have the Grace of God. There is no real quest without Grace. When we think of Him, when we meditate on Him, we are not doing anything of our own accord. He makes us think of Him and meditate on Him. We can't take any credit for this ourselves. We are not doing these activities, we are made to do these. The moment we are fully conscious of this, we shall be utterly humble. Whatever happens during meditation, happens because He makes it happen the way it happens. So there is no cause for joy or sorrow.

Sri Bhagavan never said, even once, that he thought of Arunachala. He said that Arunachala made him think of Arunachala and that he was grateful to Him for that. In Verse 3 of Arunachala Padigam Sri Bhagavan says: "I had no idea of thinking of you at all. And yet you drew me with your cord of Grace..." In Verse 49 of Aksharamanamalai, Sri Bhagavan says; "Wealth benignant, holy Grace that came to me unsought..." Everywhere Sri Bhagavan talks about the Grace that was showered unsought. He didn't seek Arunachala, but Arunachala chose him. Sri Bhagavan talks of his own utter insignificance and of the majesty, grandeur and glory of Arunachala. In Verse 5 of Arunachala Padigam Sri Bhagavan says, "From out of all the creatures in the world, what did you gain by choosing me? You saved me, did you not, from falling into the void and you have held me firmly fixed at your feet. Lord of the Ocean of Grace, my heart shrinks in modesty even at the thought of You. Long may you live, O Arunachala, and let me bend my head in praise and worship of You."

Whenever we feel depressed at not progressing in our sadhana despite our efforts, we must remind ourselves that we are not doing any sadhana of our own accord but that He is making us do it out of His Grace. It is up to Him to do what He wills with our sadhana. We cannot choose Him, only He can choose us. The Kathopanishad says: "This Atman cannot be attained by the study of Vedas or by intelligence, nor by much listening. It is gained by him alone whom it chooses. To him this Atman reveals its true nature." (1.2.23)

We cannot choose to do or to avoid sadhana. When chosen, we must be grateful and humble and not complain about the results. We must leave everything to Arunachala who, Sri Bhagavan says, will not stop until He makes us still like the holy Hill itself, once we turn to Him (Decad 10).

We are made to turn to Him through His Grace. It is through His Grace also that we think of Him and it is for Him to do what He likes with us and our sadhana.